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Rock Zouma enjoys a fine debut season

By ESPN Staff

Makelele feeling the pressure at Chelsea

Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele has claimed that internal pressures at Stamford Bridge make it 'difficult' to succeed.

Ahead of Sunday's Carling Cup final against Arsenal, the French midfield anchor, 34, has spoken of the intense scrutiny faced by players and manager Jose Mourinho.

While some of those pressures come from outside the Barclays Premiership champions, Makelele admits the high standards demanded by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich make the stakes even higher.

'Now Chelsea have become one of Europe's great clubs there is such pressure on the manager and players from the public and media,' he told The Sun.

'And from the owner, who puts pressure on behind the scenes. In truth, we don't really know too much about what is happening.

'Roman Abramovich does not say a lot but we can see there is so much pressure the club is putting on the manager.

'It's unbearable, especially for the players. We want to be in the right conditions to win matches and above all trophies.

'That is difficult with this internal pressure.'

Makelele also reserved special praise for Mourinho for his attempts to shield the squad from the internal wranglings that make his life so difficult.

He added: 'The manager has taken all the pressure on himself and has always been behind us. It's impressive.

'I do feel the internal pressure around the manager. He is managing to handle it and come through it well.

'The manager hides a huge amount from us. He preserves us from everything internal, the pressure within the club.

'He doesn't want us to feel that. The objective is not to think of those things.

'It's to go out and win matches and all the trophies ahead of us. That's the most important thing.

'We won't do that if we are involved in what's happening between the manager and the club.'